Belarus, Lebanon and the eastern Mediterranean: EU Foreign Ministers hold a special video conference

The Justus Lipsius building in Brussels. EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will be holding a video conference today.

The Justus Lipsius building in Brussels. EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will be holding a video conference today., © Felix Zahn/photothek.net

14.08.2020 - Article

A summer break? Not when it comes to foreign policy. At the end of a very eventful week, EU Foreign Ministers will hold a special virtual meeting to coordinate their activities on a number of dossiers – because action is urgently required.

Increase pressure on Belarus

Minimum standards for the conduct of democratic elections were manifestly not respected in connection with the presidential elections in Belarus last Sunday. There are numerous reports of systematic irregularities and violations of electoral law, and OSCE election observers were not able to go about their work and monitor the elections. Belarusian election observers were also obstructed in their work. Foreign Minister Maas had the following to say yesterday in this regard:

In 21st century Europe, there is no place for the violence that has been deployed in Belarus. We will if necessary further increase pressure on the Belarusian political leadership, to ensure that the country complies with its international obligations.

During today’s Foreign Affairs Council, Foreign Minister Maas will advocate for a clear and unified response by the EU to the situation in Belarus. Already on 12 August, the EU 27 issued a joint declaration stating that in view of the violence and repression in recent days it intends to conduct an in-depth review of the EU’s relations with Belarus.

The eastern Mediterranean: de-escalation is the only option

The new Turkish seismic survey in the eastern Mediterranean that began early this week has severely strained relations between Turkey and Greece. At their last meeting on 13 July, the EU Foreign Ministers affirmed their full support for High Representative Borrell, who had stressed the importance of good relations between the EU and Turkey, but also noted that the values, principles and interests of the EU need to be respected. The German Government is following the situation with great concern. Urgently needed now are credible steps towards de-escalation. Heiko Maas will therefore consult with his EU colleagues on how to promote dialogue between those concerned.

Lebanon: accompanying the transition process

After the devastating explosion in Lebanon, what the country needs most is swift and effective assistance, as well as credible reforms that give people there long-term prospects. Many Lebanese have been taking to the streets, demanding an investigation of events in connection with the disaster as well as reform of the proportional representation system and the economic and financial sector. Lebanon is in the midst of a severe economic crisis that triggered the protests. The German Government considers transparency to be the basis for further essential international economic and financial assistance. Foreign Minister Maas underscored this during his visit to Beirut on Wednesday. Over 250 million euro worth of aid was pledged at last week’s international donor conference for Lebanon, which included EU funding. As a first step, Germany pledged 21.8 million euro in emergency aid. Heiko Maas said the following during his visit: “The scope of devastation and destruction is nearly unfathomable. Lebanon needs swift economic reforms. This is what the women and men of Lebanon expect.” During their virtual meeting, Minister Maas and his colleagues intend to discuss what political approach can best support a transition in Lebanon.


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